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Microsoft|Microsoft 365|Microsoft Teams

Microsoft 365's Next Big Feature is Called Viva - The Intranet, Reborn

Keeping employees engaged is a critical component to the long-term success of the individual but with resources often scattered to various ends of your intranet, finding content can be challenging. Microsoft is looking to tackle this problem with its new Employee Experience Platform or EXP for short.

Microsoft is calling the new offering Viva and it will start rolling today (in preview) with updates targeted throughout 2021. The tool will bring together communication, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights into an integrated experience that will live inside of Teams and to little surprise, Viva will be primarily powered by Microsoft 365 applications and data.

The goal of Viva is to unify the employee experience across four key areas: Engagement, Wellbeing, Learning, and Knowledge with the objective of making the EXP the central hub for keeping your employees engaged with resources applicable to their specific role.

Data inside of Viva will be populated by internal company assets and third-party connections. Today, Microsoft is announcing the first four modules for Viva:

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Viva connections is designed to deliver news to your users.

Viva Connections provides a personalized gateway to your digital workplace where employees can access internal communications and company resources like policies and benefits and participate in communities like employee resource groups, all from a single customizable app in Microsoft Teams. The Connections app for Teams will be available on desktop in public preview the first half of 2021with a mobile app coming later this year.

Viva Insights, a module coming to the platform to provide analytics about your work/life balance.

Viva Insights gives individuals, managers, and leaders personalized and actionable insights that help everyone in an organization thrive. Personal experiences and insights, visible only to the employee, help individuals protect time for regular breaks, focused work, and learning, as well as strengthen relationships with their colleagues.

Viva Learning will deliver first and third-party learning solutions to your users.

Viva Learning makes training and professional development opportunities more discoverable and accessible in the flow of work. It aggregates all the learning resources available to an organization in one place, including content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and third-party providers including Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, and edX; as well as an organization’s own content library.

Viva topics will help keep your users informed.

Viva Topics is a knowledge discovery module that helps people connect to information and experts across the company. Using AI to reason over a customer’s Microsoft 365 data, and with the ability to integrate knowledge from a variety of third-party services such as ServiceNow and Salesforce.

If you are thinking that this doesn’t feel like an entirely new product from Microsoft, that’s because it’s not. This appears to be mostly a grouping of existing tools already inside of Microsoft 365, like SharePoint and Stream, re-packaged and given a new coat of paint. That doesn’t mean that Viva is not worth exploring but it’s important to know that it’s not a brand-new solution from the company.

Microsoft says that organizations spend $300 billion a year on employee experience and it’s clear the company wants to be a bigger part of this conversation. One of the challenges with the tools in this segment is that they are typically operated in silos or are disruptive to workflows – thus the inclusion of Viva inside of Teams to make that workflow challenge a bit easier to manage.

Teams continues to grow in functionality and adding Viva to the platform will certainly enhance the application to move deeper into the “communication and collaboration” hub category and further away from a stand-alone messaging app. That being said, as the app continues to become more complex, you do begin to question what is the upper bound of the acceptable complexity of Teams and if Microsoft is approaching that ceiling.

But at the same time, you can’t argue with the success of Teams. The application is used by more than 115 million daily users and it is performing well in the education sector too.

Look for Microsoft to start heavily promoting Viva in 2021 and how it can improve the EXP for companies large and small. But first, the company needs to get all the modules out the door and entice Developers/IT Pros to integrate the solution into their environment.

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Brad Sams has more than a decade of writing and publishing experience under his belt including helping to establish new and seasoned publications From breaking news about upcoming Microsoft products to telling the story of how a billion dollar brand was birthed in his book, Beneath a Surface, Brad is a well-rounded journalist who has established himself as a trusted name in the industry.